KUALA LUMPUR: The national junior hockey team will leave it late to name their final 18 for the Sultan of Johor Cup, which will be held in Johor Baru from Oct 11-18.
The team, whose five-day stint at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru ended on Friday, will continue their training in Kuala Lumpur with two matches against a National Selection on Tuesday and Wednesday.
They will then travel back to Johor Baru for a friendly against Britain before the final selection is made.
The Sultan of Johor Cup is an invitational Under-21 tournament that will see Malaysia going up against defending champions India, Pakistan, Australia, Argentina and Britain.
With the Junior Asia Cup scheduled for Nov 14-22 in Kuantan, Malaysia, India and Pakistan will be looking to use the Sultan of Johor Cup to gear up for the tournament. The Kuantan meet offers four places to the Junior World Cup next year.
India have already booked themselves a spot in the Junior World Cup as the host nation and all Malaysia need to do at the Kuantan tournament is to finish in the top three.
Chief coach A. Arulselvaraj will be looking to keep his cards close to his chest during the Johor Baru meet as India and Pakistan will be taking a keen interest on their progress.
The Malaysians are the highest ranked Asian team in both the Johor Baru and Kuantan tournaments following their victory at the last Junior Asia Cup in Malacca and their fourth placing in the 2013 Junior World Cup.
“The Sultan of Johor Cup is the only tournament I have to test the boys and I’m aware that India and Pakistan will be keeping a close eye on us. I will ensure our boys do their best without giving away too much,” he said.
Malaysia finished a disappointing fifth in the previous edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup, but Arulselvaraj is confident they will do better this time.
“I’ll be trying out different tactics for each game to see which one suits us best,” he said.
“My biggest concern is injuries. With the Junior Asia Cup just around the corner, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’ll be no serious injuries.”
The coach will be banking on his three experienced team members – Mohd Shahril Saabah, Mohd Haziq Syamsul and Meor Mohd Azuan Hassan – to hold the team together.
Did you find this article insightful?